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# Why doesn't the force of gravity change the speed of a bowling ball as it rolls along a bowling lane?

Updated: 9/27/2023

Wiki User

14y ago

Gravity most definatley works on a Bowling ball as it goes down the lane. If gravity didn't affect it then the ball would go through the roof of the center. However the ball does not appear to slow down much because there is clear oil on the lane (in varying amounts) which allows the ball to skid across the lane without giving up a lot of speed.

The ball is rolled down the lane with enough force to allow it to gain momentum (a sort of gravity) and the lane is heavily waxed, so there is little resistence to slow it down. The ball will sometimes 'break', or hook to the left or right; this makes the ball go into the 'gutter' if your ball doesn't have enough momentum. If you notice, on the lane before and after the foul line, there are arrows that guide where you stand and where you aim your ball to guide it so that the ball will turn left or right to hit the left or the right of the #1 pin to get a strike.

Work is the force times the distance traveled in the direction of the force (vector multiplication). If the bowling alley is level, then as the ball moves it's distance from the center of the earth does not change. That is, it does not move at all in the direction of the force of gravity. Since the distance moved toward or against the force is zero, the work done is zero.

Force of gravity will not effect the bowling ball because the Normal Force is equal to the Force of gravity. Therefore canceling each other out. The forces on the bowling ball rolling down a bowling alley would be Applied Force and some Force of Friction.

Work (W) is defined in Physics as the Force (f) acting on an object times the distance (d) the object is moved by that Force, or W = fd

Since Force is mass times acceleration, and because the ball is on a surface that is perpendicular to the force exerted by gravity, the ball does not move vertically; there is no gravitational acceleration, hence no Force, so no Work is done by gravity.

Wiki User

9y ago

Wiki User

12y ago

By Newtonian mechanics,

W = F*d

Where W is the work performed, F is the force exerted, and d is the distance the object being worked upon moves.

Gravity in this case is dragging the bowling ball toward the center of the earth with a force of 9.8 m/s2. Since the ball is already on the ground, though, it doesn't move toward the center of the earth at all - only toward the end of the lane, which is in a path perpendicular to the pull of gravity.

Thus, the distance that gravity moves the ball is zero.

Plugging the numbers in,

W = (9.8 m/s2)*(0) = 0

and gravity does no work upon the ball once it is on the lane.

Wiki User

13y ago

Work is definied in Physics as the Force acting on an object times the distance the object is moved by that Force, or W = fd

Since Force is mass times acceleration (F=ma), and because the ball is on a surface that is perpendicular to the force exerted by gravity, there is no gravitational acceleration, hence no Force, so no Work is done by gravity.

Wiki User

14y ago

Except for the downward drop from the initial release, the bowling ball is rolling horizontally as it covers the length of the lane. Gravity only affects velocity when there's a vertical component to the motion (whether upward or downward).

Friction is the main force affecting the speed and direction of a bowling ball. As it crosses from the oiled front part of the lane to the drier back end, the increased friction changes both the ball's direction (also known as its 'hook') as well as its speed. If the lane were long enough, or the ball thrown slowly enough, it would eventually grind to a stop.

In seeming defiance of the laws of physics, a ball thrown with a lot of spin and side roll can actually SPEED UP as it enters the dry part of the lane. That's because some of the energy from the ball's spin can be converted into additional energy for the rolling motion. If you watch big-hooking professional bowlers as they release the ball, you can see this happening for yourself.

Wiki User

10y ago

Work = force x distance. The idea is that no force is applied to the ball - except for a small amount of force due to friction. Specifically, you don't apply a force to keep it moving - that's the ball's natural tendency, so it requires no force to do so.

Wiki User

13y ago

Work is definied in Physics as the Force acting on an object times the distance the object is moved by that Force, or W = fd

Since Force is mass times acceleration, and because the ball is on a surface that is perpendicular to the force exerted by gravity, there is no gravitational acceleration, hence no Force, so no Work is done by gravity.

Wiki User

12y ago

Strictly speaking, it moves with negative acceleration. The forces of friction and air resistance both act to slow the ball down. If the lane were long enough, the ball would eventually come to a complete stop.

Wiki User

14y ago

It moves with negative acceleration because the friction from the surface is slowing it down.

Wiki User

12y ago

its motion is perpendicular to the direction of which the gravitational force acts on it.

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Q: Why doesn't the force of gravity change the speed of a bowling ball as it rolls along a bowling lane?
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